Kai Eide, the former UN special representative to Afghanistan, has been very vocal in his criticism of the Obam Administration’s approach to the Karzai government. He has blamed Obama’s civil and military leaders for the continuous strain in the relationship with Kabul.
In a recent interview published by BBC Pashto, Mr. Eide was was especially critical of Obama’s envoy to South Asia, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Mr. Eide claimed that Holbrooke was stubborn and unaware of Afghan sensitivities.
“I think Holbrooke’s approach, especially at the beginnings of Obama administration, was very harmful. He is a person who got very involved in the Presidential elections. I agree that a lot of wrongdoings happened in the elections. But foreigners like Holbrooke, too, got very involved. This became the source of the tensions that we have today.”
Some other key points from the interview:
–Mr. Eide disagreed with the decision for announcing withdrawal date, saying it has caused panic among European members of NATO. They, too, are looking for a way out now, which has strained the Afghan government’s trust in its international partners.
— On Karzai’s relationship to the West: “I agree that President Karzai’s approach has been lacking. But I also see that the international community’s approach towards him, especially the United States’, has played a major role in straining the relationship between Karzai and the West. And they do not realize that they have let down and distanced not only Karzai but also other leaders in that country, which can affect the larger population too. You can’t go into the country and say: I am your guest, but I will be dictating terms here based on my own ideas. These things won’t work in Afghanistan. I have said this at the Security Council also, and the US Ambassador in Kabul, Eikenberry, agrees with me. But no one listens to him either.”
— “Its imperative that leaders, especially those in Washington, learn the art of learning and listening. When the Obama administration took over, they distinguished themselves from the previous administration in the fact that they will listen to others. Unfortunately, that’s not what I see. And this factor has played a major role in why we are in a mess today”